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Image above from the opening days of the Maoist revolutionary attempt in Peru. Young peasant fighters led by the Communist Party of Peru (Shining Path).

by MIKE ELY

In the nearby No Cheap Shots thread, John initiated an important issue. He writes:

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Posted by on in Theory

by MIKE ELY

We have been engaged over the last period in a series of exchanges with forces who hold very different views from us. Which is fine. And we (in Kasama) are also engaged in some protracted and detailed discussions over how to expand our basis of unity -- and what to uphold.

For both of those purposes it is worth discussing method:

  • How should we debate?
  • What methods serve the goals of clarity and unity around a revolutionary politics?
  • How should we respond when opponents distort arguments or inject toxic forms of hostility?
  • What is our purpose when engaging in deep discussion of controversies?

I want to argue for (what Maoists call) the high plane of two line struggle

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Posted by on in Theory

The Marxist Internet Archive is truly precious. It is an amazing development after more than a century in which many people (many millions, literally) had to search and scramble to get communist works. The idea that some firm claims copyright on humanity's important communist legacy (or technically on the only existing English translation of some Marx works) is an outrage. Below is the text of a Change.org petition drive to preserve this crucial resource. —Mike Ely

 

Petitioning Lawrence & Wishart

No Copyright for Marx Engels Collected Works

Change.org Petition by Ammar Aziz, Lahore, Pakistan

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Today is Comrade Lenin's 144th birthday.We dip our blood in memory of this legendary comrade who discovered the era of Imperialism and Proletarian revolution and defined the tactics and strategy of this modern era.Leninism is the marxism of the era of Imperialism and proletarian revolution and we still exist within that era.Lenin was the pioneer of the proletarian party ,democratic centralism and the ' colonial thesis' which took Marxism to a higher stage by discovering Imperialism.He also was the founder of 'revolutionary violence '.Significantly the comintern was founded in Lenin's time.

Today many comrades have violated Comrade Lenin's basic formulations by advocating multi-party system,era of 'maoism' ,'independence of mass organizations from the vanguard party'etc.Infact one of the reasons for the collapse of the Revolutionary Internationalist movement was it's lack of firm grasp of Leninist principles,particularly with regards to development of the party of the proletariat at a sufficient level.Underestimation of Lenin's tactical and strategic formulations led to the defeat of the Shining path movement in Peru and the CPN-Maoist in Peru.They underestimated the era of Lenin and took 'Maoism' as principal.The PCP gave one sided emphasis on Maoist military line while neglecting attention to Lenin's doctrine of Imperialism,massline and the proletarian party.Com.Gonzao overestimated the victory of peoples awes world over and negated the strength of Imperialism. Some intellectuals are critical that sufficient power  was not awarded in Lenin's era  to the Soviets and a standing army was not abolished.However they fail to measure the stark reality the Bolshevik party faced from enemies.Lenin did his utmost to promte revolutionary democracy in the first ever Socialist State.We need to study Stalin's work on foundations of Leninism.

On his birthday we must uphold the sword of Leninism against all wrong trends.Even if we uphold Maoism we have to recognize Lenin's fundamental tactics and strategy formulated for the modern era of Imperialism and proletarian revolution.Mao is the greatest marxist of his era and has taken Leninism to it's highest stage but has still not yet discovered a new era or replaced the Leninist formulations.Lin Biao wrongly called Mao Tse Tung thought the Marxism -Leninism of the era of total collapse of Imperialism Even the 10th C.P.C.congress declared that Leninism is the marxism of the era of Imperialism and proletarian revolution.The character of Imperialism changed from the colonial age ,to the time of the cold war but the era remained unchanged.In India 'Maoism' has been upheld but not something as principal.There are still comrades who oppose the formulation of 'Maoism ' replacing Mao Zedong thought or that Mao thought is the Leninism of today.Even the Chinese Communist party upheld Mao thought as a component of Leninism and not a seperate entity.Today there parties that claim that Maoism is the principal link and not Leninism like the C.P.I.(M.L.)Naxalbari.Without mastering Leninism no peoples war would succeed.Above all Lenin championed the mass line and opposed personality cult.Some comrades find fault with his banning of factions who fail to understand the situation Lenin faced with enemies all around him.Infact the C.P.C.under Mao contained factions which worked against it's centralism,like those of Liu Shao Chi and Lin Biao. Comrade Mao inspite of creating layers of revolutionary democracy as never done before failed to establish sufficient development  of  Leninism within his party which attributed to the revisionists grabbing power after his death in 1976..Remember how even Bob Avakian earlier considered Lenin's contribution as immortal.Only through strong grasp of Leninism were the roots of peoples war created in India.His teachings are also fundamental on the question of liberation of nationalities from a class -proletarian perspective like in India.
The formation of Revolutionary Internationalist Movement was a blunder which later on became defunct.Never forget it was the R.I.M.that always asserted that the present era was that of Leninism-of Imperialism and proletarian revolution.
Long live Leninism on Lenin's 144th birthday today!

Quoting the N.C.P.(Mashal)  in 1992:

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Posted by on in Theory

 I wrote this essay around the time when the Iraq war was in full gear. I post it hear as part of the dialogue that we have had recently on Kasama about revolutionary strategy and communist orientation, particularly the recent pieces by Enaa on Blanqui and his Rock beats scissors piece.

Here I look at the German political philosopher and jurist Carl Schmitt and his ideas about the distinction between friend and enemy and contrast them to Mao's understanding of friends and enemies and the actual experience of the Chinese revolution. Carl Schmitt had a strong influence on the Nazis and at one point joined them as they rose to power. Some leftists have argued that there are things we can incorporate from his prolific body of work but this has been contested by others like Zizek. Some of that is touched on here.  

The paper was an academic paper, though I was never too good at sticking to academic concerns. At the time I wrote it part of my goal was to persuade academics to look more at Mao tse-tung’s political theory (something still needed) and that comes out a bit at the end of the piece. I was also just coming into familiarity with thinkers like Zizek and Badiou. Believing the piece still has some theoretical value, I’m posting the pieces here slightly edited from its original edition, warts and all. I think the points made about the period of the Iraq War regarding how we can conceive of friend and enemy still hold up in today's international situation.

Posted by on in Theory

One of the most useless terms thrown around on the left is “Stalinism” (statist and totalitarianism are two others that rank up there).


Stalinism is often utilized as a swear word by leftists against anything they disagree with. And this means that Stalinism is used to refer to such differing figures, ideologies, movements and governments that it loses all coherent meaning. For example, I've known leftists who refer to both Mao and Deng as 'Stalinists.' Never mind that these two figures had opposite politics (Mao led a socialist revolution and Deng reversed one).

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Originally published by Verso Books,


In late January the philosopher Alain Badiou was in Athens, where he gave three talks. The theme of the first of these was Plato, the second was on Lacan, while the third – the text of which appears below – was the most ‘political’. Each of the three talks had a packed-out audience. For this third talk, indeed, even the amphitheatre of the Law School did not suffice to contain the great number of attendees, with many of the large crowd of young people present filling out the stairs and floor. It took place on 25 January, and was jointly organised by the psychoanalysis review Alithia, the municipal elections movement Open City, and the SYRIZA youth organisation ‘Left Union’. It was supported by the Nikos Poulantzas Institute.
Ori

The principle that there is a single world does not contradict the infinite play of identities and differences

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So what does a physics theory have to do with politics? Maybe not much—but the argument between religion and/or idealism; and materialism and/or science, has always been an interest to Marxists.

In a nutshell M-theory is (Wikipedia):

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Posted by on in Theory

When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, he and the Republican Party began to use so many strong-arm tactics to get their way that leftists began to call his leadership style “friendly fascism.” Some liberals complained that we were doing an injustice to those who lived under fascist military governments in such places as Argentina and Chile. Yet for many of us, the similarities worked.

Still, rather than shrinking government for the common individuals he did the opposite, trying to restrict all kinds of constitutional rights—free speech, search and seizure laws, expanding the FBI and DEA and launching the fascist-like “war on drugs.”

Since the Tea Party has been making gains in the Republican Party we have a new kind of leadership that is very different and yet it is just as oppressive as the “friendly fascist.” The new word is “Libertarianism.” There is actually a whole political party that uses that name. Their ideas are showing up in the Republican Party, mostly as a part of the Tea Party movement. When the Tea Party uses it, they talked as if they are anarchist freeing all the individual people from government intrusion into their lives. They really do want less government, even an expansion of our civil liberties, especially our gun rights. But the reality is that they aren’t really taking away government oppression—they are transferring it to the private sector. Whether a person is smoking a joint or posting a comment on Facebook that is critical of the military, they will be punished. But not from the police or courts, but fired from their jobs. Repression comes from the private sector. Drug testing allows a corporation to identify a marijuana smoker and they can either force them into a drug treatment facility[i] or just fire them. Some companies have fired people for posting comments or pictures on Facebook that are critical of our country’s hero worship of veterans. They have been fired. So those who break the nation’s rules don’t have to worry about ending up in jail. They have to worry about unemployment, possible homelessness and other necessities of life that come with having a job.

Posted by on in Theory

 

Voluntarism is often treated as little more than a swear word by Marxists and communists. To be a voluntarist is to put emphasis on the will, blind action and adventurism without regard for the objective conditions which don't favor revolutionary actions. To often, the appeal to the unripeness of the “objective conditions” is little more than a left rationale for conservatism and inactivity which leads to missing the revolutionary opportunities that arise.

The concept of “political will” or dialectical voluntarism as developed by Peter Hallward in this interview is not synonymous with unthinking action. Rather, to embrace the idea of political will means to think seriously and strategically about what it will take to win. Thus, if we are serious about revolution, then we need to soberly assess what forces we are up against. We need to think about how best we can intervene to make sure our actions lead to a revolutionary end since the objective circumstances are not eternally fixed against us, rather our own efforts can shift them in our favor. -Enaa

 

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Posted by on in Theory

by MIKE ELY

What does the term "communism" refer to? I suggest that we use it in three distinct-yet-overlapping ways:

1) Communism is a goal, a direction, a road.

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What do we need to know to make preparations for a coming revolutionary movement? How do we come to know it? What is even knowable?

Althusser and Badiou have made some claims (in fact different claims at different points). And we need to make our own. 

Image: This essay is about how cause-and-effect are far from direct, simple and linear. Things (encounters, changes, eruptions) all have causes, but rarely one cause. Even when carefully studying real and measurable tensions in the present, it isn't easy to predict what effect(s) they will have.

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When it first came to my attention, while reading New Synthesis of Bob Avakian and concept of dissent by Harsh Thakor, who regularly contributes to the Kasama Project, I didn’t think much about this subject. But Harsh Thakor’s article and some comments I read at Kasama encouraged me to do some research on my own as to the role that Avakian played in the end days of the Revolutionary International Movement (RIM) and his treatment of third world Maoist parties in that alliance. Regardless of his writings, his treatment of other RIM members was rude and patronizing.

Harsh Thakor’s article was on parts of Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) USA Chairman Bob Avakian’s new synthesis; which is called COMMUNISM: THE BEGINNING OF A NEW STAGE A Manifesto from the
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
. Thakor praised parts of it: “Bob Avakian makes an important contribution in his analysis that dissent is required within a Socialist Society. This was valid as in USSR and even in China in the period of the Cultural Revolution, sufficient scope of debate or dissent was not promoted.” He also pointed out that some of it runs contrary to what many Maoists believe in today’s world. He included some comments and opinions from other Maoists, such as Ajith, the Secretary of the Communist Party India (Marxist Leninist)-Naxilbari.

Most amusing were some comments left by Avakian supporters/ fans, at Harsh Thakor’s article and on some other articles about Alain Badiou. At one point one of these Avakianists suggested we promote his new synthesis in Nepal to regenerate the revolution there.

I have not actually read very much of Avakian’s new synthesis, although I have read a lot of his writings over the years.  I began looking at comments and articles that have been written and posted on line, by other Maoist parties, commenting on Avakian and his latest works. What I found was disturbing, not merely because of his actual writings, but the accusations of several Maoist organizations, many of them past RIM members. They have accused him of using undemocratic methods to push his ideas into the RIM and excluding any real debate on them; trying to set himself up as a super cult of personality and contributing a great deal to the collapse of RIM. And that is not counting the complaints that he has almost completely abandoned Marxism-Leninism-Maoism for his new theories—which have led to the accusation that he is a revisionist.

 

Tagged in: bob avakian

This is a response to an article by the Peru People’s Movement on the cult of personality. On their web site they posted “LONG LIVE THE XXI ANNIVERSARY OF CHAIRMAN GONZALO'S MASTERFUL SPEECH, THAT SHINES VICTORIOUSLY AND POWERFULLY BEFORE THE WORLD AS A COMBAT WEAPON!
DOWN WITH THE REVISIONIST THESIS OF THE "PERSONALITY CULT"
! The article is in response to a position taken by the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Naxalbari, who seem to have opposed having a cult of personality. Most American revolutionaries I am aware of, besides the Communist Revolutionary Party USA, do not like the idea of a personality cult. There is a cultural attitude among people in this country that we do not need to worship a leader any more than those of us who do not want to worship a god (although there are religious revolutionaries). Many of us agree with the old Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) slogan; “No god, no master.”  

Originally published under the title "Ibrahim Kaypakkaya’s Analysis of Kemalism" at The Espresso Stalinist here.

Translated from Turkish by Batuhan S. Tumer & Espresso Stalinist

Ibrahim Kaypakkaya was the founder and leader of the Communist Party of Turkey / Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML). He was also one of the most prominent Marxist theorists in Turkey, this critique of Kemalism being his most known work. This was the first left-wing revolutionary analysis of Kemalism. Kaypakkaya spoke out amidst cries of derision and shock from the other left-wing parties. It remains one of the most influential Marxist analyses of Kemalism.

In 1973, Kaypakkaya was arrested and imprisoned in the infamously brutal Diyarbakır Prison by the Turkish state and endured horrific torture for four months. He chose to die rather than give information, and was murdered by a shot to the head from his captors. Today he remains a heroic martyr and a symbol of resistance both for the Turkish left and the communist movement worldwide.

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Posted by on in Theory

 

This review essay was originally published at Counterpunch here.

By Doug Enaa Greene

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"If you limit yourself to sexual pleasure it's narcissistic. You don't connect with the other, you take what pleasure you want from them.""

Capitalism atomizes human beings, it forges connections of work and domination that serve capital, while it shatters the ability to create all kinds of other connections that sustain, heal, and resist.  Capitalism promotes connects based on usage, predation, profit and self-interest.

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Charles Bettleheim-Tribute on his 100th birth anniversary today on November 20th,2013(born on Nov 20th  1913 and died on July 18th,2006)

Today, on November 20th ,2013 we observe the 100 birth centenary of the great Marxist economist Charles Belttleheim.Without doubt he was one of the most remarkable economists of the 20th century in light of his works on U.S.S.R.and China.Bettleheim made a comprehensive study of the U.S.S.R in ‘Class Struggles from from 1917-1923’ and ‘Class Struggles from 1923-1930’ and did invaluable research in analyzing the base and superstructure of Soviet Society. In his writing she displayed remarkable insight on the ultimate degeneration of a Socialist Society into a revisionist one in Soviet Russia. True, he differed from the orthodox Leninist perspective  and was harshly critical of Stalin unlike many Maoists. However even if we disagree with him he made some valid points and staunchly combated Trotskyism or it’s tendencies. In his work ‘China Leaps Backward’ Bettleheim  greatly praised the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Cultural Revolution and Mao’s line which opposed Trotskyite thinking and made corrections of the Soviet mistakes. If analysed in the correct light Bettleheim ‘s ideology was bent towards Maoism if we read his works on Mao’s experiments and his condemnation of Deng Xiaoping’s policies after 1978. Above all he was a great admirer of Soviet Russia and Socialist China and in certain writings reflects a subtle admiration for Stalin. He probably made some wrong judgements and conclusions  but it is immensely useful for revolutionary cadres to read Bettleheim’s writings.They can make us ponder on serious question s on former Socialist Societies and what we need to defend and reject.

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